Health Check: what to look for in sunglasses
Beach time in Minnesota is a time to enjoy the outdoors and sunshine with caution.  Most people know about protecting their skin, but did you know your eyes are at risk, too?

At Elm Creek Beach in Maple Grove, you'll find sunglasses worn in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

"I like the shape of them, they're a little bit lower on my face, they protect a little bit more," said beachgoer Sara Hansmann.  "I like that they're mirrors so I can look at people and they don't know."

And there are many reasons people choose the sunglasses they do.

"I lost all my other pairs," said Chandler Shelton, "I could only get the cheap ones cause I lose them so much."

"Obviously I look for comfort and something that would stay on my face," said Leslie Wedel. "I don't want them to fall off."  She adds that style and durability are important factors, too.

They can be stylish, but experts say sunglasses' main job is to protect your eyes from radiation you can't even see.

"My eyes hurt without any type of sunglasses, so I miss them when I don't have them thats for sure," said Heather Slabaugh.

Lifeguards who spend a lot of time in the sun are aware of the need for good glasses.

"Definitely UV ray protection because those can actually be really harmful to your eyes," said Nicholas Russell the head lifeguard at Elm Creek.   "Your eyes can actually get sun burned."

The Mayo Clinic says to protect your eyes, look for sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays.  That's radiation from the sun in wavelengths too short to see. UV rays can contribute to cataracts and macular degeneration.  Glasses should also screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light, and have lenses that are perfectly matched in color and free of distortions.

So whats the biggest mistake people make?

"Sometimes they're just tinted and that's where the mistake is made," says Adrian Parks of West Metro Optical in Golden Valley.

Parks says over time, natural protection in our eyes can wear down. The National Eye Institute says you should wear glasses to block UV rays anytime you're outside during daylight hours. Parks says that means year round.

"Everytime you step outside its good to put them on especially during winter, we may not notice but its still bright outside during winter," said Parks.

Mike Johnson, reporting

July 25, 2017


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